Sydney Thunder is the early pacesetter as they follow up their win in Brisbane by beating the champions in Geelong.
Sydney Sixers were on track to join them, after beating the Scorchers at the SCG, until the Hurricanes’ Qais Ahmed initiated a collapse of seven wickets for 13 runs. Although the Thunder haven’t been entirely convincing, they sit on top of the ladder after two matches on the road.
Sydney Sixers beat Perth Scorchers by 8 wickets
Josh Philippe showed why he’s touted for international recognition with an outstanding knock of 81 from 44 balls to see the Sixers home with five overs remaining. Having batted first, the Scorchers limped to 131 all out which was always going to be challenging to defend. Cameron Green’s defiant 36 helped the Scorchers recover from 4/29 but the loss of wickets at regular intervals meant that the Sixers were in the box seat.
Chris Jordan, on his Scorchers debut, took two wickets but the Philippe made sure that Perth was not going to get into the game. Fawad Ahmed had put in a cameo with the bat, 19 from nine balls, but struggled with the ball and conceded 35 from his four overs. Philippe ended the match with a towering six onto the Ladies Stand roof of the SCG.
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Sydney Thunder beat Melbourne Renegades by 6 wickets
Sydney Thunder left it late, but Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja’s 99-run opening partnership anchored the victory against the reigning champions in Geelong. The Renegades batted first and got off to a good start cate of Sam Harper and Aaron Finch’s fifty opening stand. The loss of Harper brought Shaun Marsh to the crease. The ex-Scorcher showed why he was so effective in this format. Marsh smoothly went through the gears while Finch then Tom Cooper got out at inopportune moments.
In the 16th over, Marsh too perished at a time when 180-190 looked easily achievable for the Renegades. Marsh’s 42 from 33 balls felt like a job incomplete for the champions. Dan Christian and Beau Webster attempted to regain momentum, but Thunder’s bowlers restricted the score to 5/169.
The Thunder response was underpinned by the classy partnership between Hales and Khawaja. They are already looking like as dangerous a partnership as Matthew Wade, and D’Arcy Short was in BBL08. It was left to ‘Gades bowler Harry Gurney to break the partnership and did so with the score on 99. Callum Ferguson struggled to reproduce the form he showed at the Gabba and fell cheaply, to Englishman Ric Gleeson who was on debut, for four.
The loss of Hales, again to golden-arm Gurney, for 68 threatened to upend the run chase. However, Alex Ross played a vital cameo to see the Thunder home and to the top of the early ladder.
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Hobart Hurricanes beat Sydney Sixers by 25 runs
Despite being a home game for the Hurricanes, the match was held in stifling conditions in Alice Springs. With the mercury rising way past 40°C, both teams found the conditions testing. It was the Hurricanes who prevailed as the Sixers, looking set to join the Thunder at the top of the standings, wilted in the heat. Qais Ahmed’s 4-12 and Riley Meredith’s miserly 1-10 took the game away from the Sixers.
Despite electing to bat first, the Hurricanes found getting runs at Traeger Park hard work. Only D’Arcy Short with 51 managed to get above 16 runs. Short and Ben McDermott, stand-in captain in the absence of Matthew Wade, got the Hurricanes to 1/76 before the two Bens, Manenti and Dwarshuis, chipped in with two wickets each. Sean Abbott was the pick of the Sixers’ bowlers with 3-20 and Hobart struggled to 9/129 off their 20 overs.
The total was not going to be an easy one to get but still achievable with the batting line up at the Sixers’ disposal. Losing Daniel Hughes early, for two, brought James Vince to the crease with Josh Philippe. Both Vince and Philippe enjoying batting together and quickly moved to 1/48 before Meredith produced a ball far too good for Vince.
The loss of Vince was the turning point as the Sixers lost seven wickets for 13 runs. Simon Milenko picked up the key wicket of Philippe, for 24, before Qais Ahmed ran through the middle order. Despite Ben Manenti’s career-best knock of 22, including a six, the Sixers fell 25 runs short.